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Bradbury should be ashamed

Written By: - Date published: 2:59 pm, January 16th, 2017 - 148 comments
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With friends like this who on the left needs enemies?

From Bomber Bradbury’s blog:

… Andrew Little was the Leader of the EPMU right before the Pike River Mine accident. There have been all sorts of quiet angry questions about the role of the EPMU in the lead up to the Pike River Mine accident and if there’s anyone who can research those questions and bring them into the open, it’s Winston.

So it was the EPMU that cut oversight, deregulated the industry and created a system where corporate greed was more important than basic safety measures. It was the EPMU’s fault because when they proposed to the workers they should take action about safety concerns they were threatened with being sued.  It was the EPMU’s fault that the Government did a deal with Whittall so money would be paid and the case against him dropped.

Bomber has really hit the tarmac on this one. All he is doing is spreading a Cameron Slater slur. Coming from a website that has union sponsorship and support is a disgrace.

He should educate himself by reading up on the subject and understanding why it happened. Not deliver pseudo smart drive by comments blaming the Union for corporate failures.

Update: if anyone wants to read up on what the EPMU was doing about mine safety here you go.


148 comments on “Bradbury should be ashamed”

  1. shorts 1

    why does bombers blog have union sponsorship and support?

    • lprent 1.1

      Basically because he asked for it, and some unions could see value in supporting a leftish blog. Noticeably the EPMU is not and, as far as I am aware, never has been one of those financial supporters.

      Which does beg the question on exactly what motivation there was for Bomber to bag the EPMU eh?

      His motivations for bagging the Labour party is obvious. Unlike the highly unsuccessful Internet/Mana they’re not daft enough to listen to him when it comes to media advice.


      On this site we’ve always been somewhat leery about asking anyone or any organisation for any financial support. Whoever it was would be likely at some stage to cause us to have issues with perceived conflicts of interest.

      You can read about our position on who we are in the statement in the about. Despite a fuck load of insinuations and rather blatant lies by liars like Martyn Bradbury, Cameron Slater and David Farrar over the years, often repeated by our weak-minded mainstream media, no-one has ever provided any evidence or even decent arguments to refute that simple statement

      No-one makes money or a living off this site. It isn’t being run directly or indirectly using money from any undeclared 3rd parties. You can trust that the opinions expressed by the authors are their own.

      Sure we did run general ads for some time when server costs kept rising. The money went to the operating costs of the servers and the costs of the odd meeting between authors. After I got some ‘spare’ time in 2014, I did some work to drop both the costs of the sites operational costs to (now) about $200 per month, and got rid of paid advertising because it was more of a nuisance to deal with than any advantages it helped with.

      If anyone wants to support this site being around on the net, then try the Donate page.

      You won’t get a mention or any recognition apart from a warm fuzzy feeling 😈

  2. adam 2

    I’m not sure what this post is but McCarthyism seems to be it’s general thrust. Open debate includes the debates we don’t like.

    So no one can question the leader of the labour party now can they? No one can ask why was the leader of the EMPU was virtually quite about mine safety?

    And because of this post I read the whale oil post, which was just sick manipulative crap. Where as maybe we should be having a talk about what the hell happened at so many levels that men die going to work.

    And yeah there are a lot of angry people about this, count me as one of them.

    [McCarthyism? Bradbury made a stupid comment and should be called on it. The post says why – R]

    • Jenny Kirk 2.1

      This is on the EPMU website. What Bradbury, WhaleOil and Peters are all suggesting – that Andrew Little didn’t argue on the part of the miners is utter BULLshit.

      20 November, 2009
      The National Government has failed New Zealand’s miners by turning its back on sensible safety recommendations, the EPMU said this week.
      The call follows a decision by the Minister of Labour to reject reintroducing the requirement for safety check inspectors – democratically elected worker representatives who focus on worksite safety, equipment standards and safety procedures which the union has been campaigning for over the last three years.
      EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says the minister has failed miners.
      “The check inspector system is proven to increase safety and by rejecting it the minister is failing every Kiwi who works in this dangerous industry.

  3. Puckish Rogue 3

    I thought bomber was helping out Gareth not Winston…

  4. Siobhan 4

    Bradbury is prone to falling for any good looking snake oil salesman and dodgy preacher that rolls into town.
    The thought of Winston breaking through the mine face with a oil-wick cap lamp has clearly gone to his head.

  5. Bill 5

    Okay, I’m scratching my head a bit at Andrew Little’s response to Winston Peter’s making re-entry a bottom line.

    Why slag him for saying he (Peters) would go in etc? That’s fairly old news, and if my memory serves me right, something that was generally lauded by people on this very blog. On the ‘etc’ – it’s hitting me as oddly (even horribly) defensive.

    And why does he (Little) call for more reports when the independent one recently released seems to have dotted all the ‘i’s and crossed all the ‘t’s?

    As for English. Well. He just go get fucked and take up a job as a caddy in Hawaii.

    edit – should maybe add that the strange antagonism Bradbury has for some on the left (not talking about pollies here) is just fucking fucked.

    • lprent 5.1


      1. “people” is not everyone. “some people” would have been a far better description. Certainly I didn’t support a precipitous rush into Pike River. I did support looking at it again.

      2. As far as I was concerned, the reasons for not going back into the mine were quite unclear and not transparent to me, and I have a moderate amount of knowledge about the technical issues. It appeared to be as likely or more likely to be a matter of political and/or financial expediency as any technical reason.

      3. It wasn’t an “independent” report as far as I was concerned. Reports sought by interested parties (especially relatives) really aren’t that interesting except for whatever the reasons that it raises to question other reports of decisions. The best that this one did was to raise the question of a re-look. The response by Solid Energy and the government in continuing to close and SEAL the mine opened even more.

      4. I’d like to see a transparent report by someone able to hire and judge the required technical help. Preferably done at arms length to Solid Energy or the government or the relatives.

      Most of the post and the reaction is actually to Bradbury and Slater, who are basically just being their usual partisan armholes. Both seeing it as an opportunity to have a go at political opponents regardless of what would be sensible things to do. That is what they do for a living.

      And Winston is a populist politician just doing what he does – seeking publicity while raising issues in the public. That is his job.

    • Jenny Kirk 5.2

      Little says there are two conflicting reports – the govt one, and the family one. So he said an independent assessment was needed – and that seems fair enough to me.

      • GregJ 5.2.1

        I’m intrigued by the idea of an independent & transparent assessment – whom exactly would represent an independent enough view to commission such a report?

        Could it be the Office of the Ombudsman or an International Body like the UN (say the International Labour Organisation)?

      • Wainwright 5.2.2

        The families reports were published here and came from top-level experts in the field internationally. Its nonsense to act like their assessment is equivalent to Solid Energy’s one seeing how Solid Energy couldn’t credibly run a bake sale.

        • David C

          We agree
          The Govt has no place owning such ventures.

          • In Vino

            Bollocks. Private enterprise is the guilty element here. Solid Energy is ruined because it is semi-privatised: an SOE – another of those disasters that Rogernomes inflicted on us.

  6. Bomber fondly imagines himself a sharp political analyst, so can’t help admiring the way Winston is hijacking these people’s misery for temporary political gain, and also can’t help disdaining Andrew Little’s unwillingness to join the cynical exercise.

    I’m only surprised that there’s anyone left who doesn’t laugh when Winston trots out another “bottom line” for any coalition deal.

  7. Paul 7

    Steven Cowan on ‘Against the Current’ also has been critical.

    How ‘modern unionism’ failed the Pike River miners

    • Siobhan 7.1

      link not working for me…

      I found this link via Whale Oil. Hmmm.


      • Mr Nobody 7.1.2

        Thanks for that link, its a pretty its a pretty interesting ar article.

        It raises an issues that always puzzled me about the EPMU Union/Andrew Little and Pike river in regards to what changed following their initial statements about Pike River and now?

        In particular:
        “After the first explosion the EPMU strongly defended the management of PRC.

        EPMU National secretary Andrew Little (now a Labour MP) told the New Zealand Herald on November 22 2010 that there was ‘nothing unusual about Pike River or this mine that we’ve been particularly concerned about’.

        He then appeared on TVNZ’s Close Up to again defend PRC management.

        He told Close Up that underground mining was inherently unsafe and the risk of gas explosions, particularly on the West Coast, was high.

        While the industry was aware of the risks and took the necessary precautions, unfortunately these kinds of incidents still happened, he argued.

        On November 26, 2010 the Dominion Post ran an article that denounced ‘wild’ rumours that the mine was not safe. It declared that “Any suggestion of obvious or known safety lapses does not find traction with unionised staff or union leader Andrew Little.'”


        “The walk out by miners as revealed by miner Brent Forrester. He told TVNZ’s Sunday on December 5 2010 that he once helped organise a walkout of about 10 miners to protest the lack of basic emergency equipment, including stretchers and an emergency transport vehicle. They received no support from the EPMU . Andrew Little even insisted that PRC ‘ had a good health and safety committee that’s been very active.'”

        • mickysavage

          Do you have a link to the Herald story? Second hand interpretation of a newspaper article is not exactly pristine. And what was the context. I would hardly call it a strong defence of the management.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            I was secretly hoping not to find this…admittedly it was on the day as the tragedy was unfolding, but Little does not even hint that there may have been safety concerns at Pike River.

            “7.15pm: Friends and family members have begun to gather at the mine, and have been allowed past the first police cordon.

            EPMU secretary Andrew Little told CloseUp underground mining was inherently unsafe and the risk of gas explosions, particularly on the West Coast, was high.

            While the industry was aware of the risks and took the necessary precautions, unfortunately these kinds of incidents still happened, he said.

            Mining safety expert David Feickhert said methane was present in the coal seam at Pike River.”


            • mickysavage

              I don’t think that we should place too much if any weight on it. It was very early on and before any of the detail had come out. At that stage of events it was not appropriate to be overtly political.

              • Rosemary McDonald

                “At that stage of events it was not appropriate to be overtly political.”

                Perhaps he should have reserved judgement until he spoke with union members….

                Ooops, according to the stuff article below he did, and no safety concerns were voiced.

                Was there any concerns expressed by EPMU members prior to the tragedy?

                How could a person find this out?

                • Lucy

                  I thought most of the miners were independent contractors and as such were not EPMU members. As such the union would not have had much over sight of the work practices in the mine, and if they had made comment they would have been slated by the MSM.

          • Mr Nobody

            There are also:

            which contains the quote:

            “Any suggestion of obvious or known safety lapses does not find traction with unionised staff or union leader Andrew Little.

            He met union members yesterday for talks on immediate needs and the continuation of salaries and wages, but there was a chance for anyone to give credence to the safety rumours. None did.”

    • joe90 7.2

      Paul, with both the link above and the Guardian link you posted over on OM your html markup is managing to append an apostrophe to the URL, hence the 404.

    • Steven Cowan on ‘Against the Current’ also has been critical.

      Yep. One thing you can say for Steven Cowan, he maintains a relentless focus on the real enemy: the non-communist left.

      • This dynamic is what lost me any interest in associating with Marxists as a teenager. National were tearing the place apart and the ‘revolutionary’ movements were more concerned with insisting that the Alliance party wasn’t radical enough.

  8. Jenny Kirk 8

    And maybe everyone also needs to have a look at the EPMU website – which shows that Andrew Little and the EPMU were constantly trying to get better conditions there.


    • Rosemary McDonald 8.1

      Thanks for that link….although I don’t see any specific reference to Pike River prior to the tragedy.

      …….it appears that only one of the miners killed was a member.

      Considering they had 1000 miner members…other EPMU members at Pike River must have complained….surely?

      I don’t know. What I do know is that the mine should not be sealed and they should have recovered the men. I grew up in a mining community in the UK and my grandfather was seriously injured in an underground collapse. I was speaking about Pike River to two youngsters from the same region and they were totally shocked that there was no recovery. Elsewhere…its simply not done to leave them underground.


      “Rescue and recovery mission
      Emergency crews initially gathered at one of the portals for the Upper Big Branch Mine in Birchton, West Virginia, about 2 miles north of Montcoal and 3 miles south of Whitesville on Route 3 (on the west side of the road).[14] Kevin Stricklin, an administrator with the Mine Safety and Health Administration, stated 25 were reported dead and 4 unaccounted for.

      Late on April 9, Governor Manchin announced that the bodies of the four missing miners had been found, bringing the death toll to 29. The miners had not been able to make it to either of the safety chambers. Conditions were so poor in the mine that rescuers who were inside on the first day of the rescue operation unknowingly walked past the bodies of the four miners.[21]”

  9. Ad 9

    I actually took time out over the holidays to read the Rebecca Macfie book Tragedy at Pike River. It would make anyone’s blood boil. But absolutely nothing in there said the unions were to blame for any of it.

    The blame is implicit in the Prime Minister immediately requiring a Royal Commission, and from there a comprehensive legislative change including personal Director and senior staff liability. The blame is with the government and the mine company operator management and its investors. No need for back-handed slurs upon anyone else.

    • Paul 9.1

      There appears to be some criticism.
      Wayne Hope wrote in 2013.

      As MacFie argues the union representing mineworkers, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) could have encouraged strikes, pickets and bans over safety yet nothing eventuated.


      • Ad 9.1.1

        I don’t agree with that reading of the book.

        I also don’t agree that holding some NGO accountable for not waving enough placards is supposed to mean they are to blame for a catastrophic and deadly collapse of a massive mine.

        This National government has gone out of its way to weaken all union activity and representation. This National government was also entirely responsible for merging the whole of the Department of Labour including mines inspections into MBIE, and gutted them as they went.

        The people who for some benighted reason still want to work in the thankless task of unions have on average shown real courage against a completely hostile government.

        If the government had done something useful like change the Employment Contracts Act to actively enforce collective bargaining from unions, including compulsory union health and safety reps, I am sure we would have heard about it.

        • BM

          It’s as if the 5th Labour government never happened.

          • weka

            Labour did it too! That’s alright then.

            • BM

              If the government had done something useful like change the Employment Contracts Act to actively enforce collective bargaining from unions, including compulsory union health and safety reps, I am sure we would have heard about it.

              Why should a National government get taken to task for not implementing what is left wing socialist policy?

              Why didn’t Labour do what Ad suggested? and why no blame heaped upon Labour are they, not a left wing party,? wouldn’t you have expected them to push through such policy?

              • DoublePlusGood

                Because the left wing socialist policy would have been the competent thing to do, and instead National were incompetent.

          • Ad

            National was and is the government during Pike River.

            National was and is responsible for the entire legislative framework at the time.

            By what mwans do you disagree with National’s complete responsibility?

          • Tricledrown

            Labour had an enquiry into mine safety in 2004 it finished in 2007 recommending upgrading Dept of Labour by increasing the number of mine safety inspectors th
            2008 National ditched that initiative.
            And allowed the number of mine inspectors to drop to 1 for the whole of NZ.
            Pike River was 90% owned by NZ Oil and Gas a government owned company.
            Shareholders were conned and conned by Pike River management who continually promised profitable production .
            Management kept going back to shareholder for more working Capital to deliver production and profitability.
            Because of the under capitalisation management kept taking shortcuts to try and make the mine profitable.
            Management continually lied about the mines potential profitability telling non govt share holders profitability was just round the corner.
            Whittall knew that he had to get Coal out of the ground at any cost.
            So he is responsible for the Deaths
            Govt oversight as the biggest shareholder was nonexistent.
            Govts neglect of safety likewise.
            That’s why Key govt let Whittall off the hook so their liability would be overlooked.

        • Sigh

          The EPMU under Andrew Little held an illegal health and safety strike at Pike River. Because it was illegal it was never publicised. This was published in the evidence to the Royal Commission.

      • Wainwright 9.1.2

        Pike Coal attacked the union by hiring greenskins, offering more pay to non-union guys, and threatening to sue them as shown in the post. This union-blaming is from Bomber and his rabid socialist mates is bullshit.

        [you’re in premod. Please have a look here and respond, https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-11012017/#comment-1286386 – weka]

      • Jenny Kirk 9.1.3

        You didn’t finish the rest of that paragraph, Paul (9.1).

        It went on to say the union had a “limp presence at the mine, in part because it wasn’t welcome” and further on the Pike River human resource manager threatened to sue the union after there had been a walk-out.

        It wasn’t easy to enlist Pike workers into the union. Some told Winter they didn’t want to upset management by signing up. And he got the impression Pike management wasn’t interested in forming any sort of relationship with EPMU. Pike had an internal health and safety committee but the union had no representation on it.

  10. The Real Matthew 10

    You’ve got to be careful with Bomber because he’s a writer for hire who will write up or denigrate just about anyone depending on who is paymaster is. A good example being his analysis of The Opportunities Party. He has this irrelevant party taking votes off National, pretty much every party on the left and supposedly being a big factor at the next election.

    But every now and again he stumbles on to an interesting opinion. In essence I agree with what he is saying here. The Union has a responsibility to look after the interests of it’s workers. If the Union believed the mine was unsafe for it’s workforce then why didn’t the Union organise a Strike until such time safety issues were rectified?

    Unions organise strikes every second week in this country over pay, conditions, health & safety etc. So where was the union in this instance?

    • mickysavage 10.1

      They were threatened with legal action. And the union movement has been significantly weakened over the past 25 years. Putting any of the blame on them is crazy.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        And the union movement has been significantly weakened over the past 33 years.


        33 years takes includes the disastrous age of Neoliberal Rogernomics introduced by the 4th Labour Government 1984 to 1990, which some Labour supporters still stand by as being necessary, to this day.

        • Paul

          Yes, some of the worst damage was done from 1984 to 1990.
          Unless the Labour Party acknowledges its significant role in the neoliberal coup d’etat that occurred, it is going nowhere.

          87 000 members prior to 1984.
          8 000 members now.
          1 million non voters
          Struggling to get 25% of the people who do vote.

          • red-blooded

            Paul, you keep asserting this as an established truth and I keep asking you for some evidence. I’ve linked to an academic paper by Bryce Edwards twice now, discussing the problems with defining and estimating political party membership in NZ, both now and in the past. See Monday’s Open Mike for the last time. Just saying it again and again doesn’t make it true.

        • mickysavage

          Learn your history CV. Union rights were restored, not greatly but they were restored under the 4th Labour Government. The economic direction could be criticised but not this aspect of that Government’s policy.

          • Colonial Viper


            You talked about the “union movement” being weakened.

            The 4th Labour government may have restored union rights on pieces of paper but they simultaneously destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands actual union members and uncountable millions in union revenues.

            This led to the demise of dozens of smaller and medium sized specialist unions whose memberships the 4th Labour Government decimated and thereafter had to shut down/be amalgamated into nothingness.

            What good are your on-paper union rights when the industries and factories the unions used to operate in are all gone?

            What good are your on-paper union rights when the Fourth Labour Government made it clear that a union could not protect your job or your industry?

            You talked about the “union movement” being weakened and in that regard, I point out to you one of the mastermind perpetrators, the Fourth Labour Government, decimated union memberships, union revenues and union credibility amongst workers, dealing the union movement a blow that it has never recovered from.

            • mickysavage

              Again learn your history. You are lecturing me and agreeing with me at the same time.

            • Andrea

              Missing from the tale are the many, lots, large numbers of ordinary New Zealanders who resented ‘having to pay those useless items in the Union’ and departed from the bosom of their union/s to run their own affairs as soon as it was legal to do so.

              They didn’t feel oppressed: they felt liberated. And a little bit richer.

              They weren’t like those awful wharfies or ferry workers interrupting school holidays. Oh, no. They were decent people – who simply took the knock on results from strikes and negotiations because ‘they were worth it’.

              A nation of smug free riders. Natural doormats for their ‘betters’.
              And the unions let it happen.

              • red-blooded

                “The unions let it happen”??? WTF were the unions supposed to do about it? I was involved in my union’s national executive for many years; it was hugely frustrating that we were always carrying a small number of freeloaders, but there’s no legal way for the union to restrict the benefits of an agreement to their own members.

                Do some thinking before making daft comments like this.

        • Psycho Milt

          OK, got it. It’s important that we hold the main perpetrators, the EPMU and the 4th Labour government, to account for the Pike River disaster (pauses to bang head on desk for a few minutes). Are these fuckwits agents provocateur sent to convince people that left-wingers are imbeciles, or is there some less-conspiratorial explanation? Surely nobody is genuinely this stupid?

          • mickysavage

            Yep it is argument by clicking on a series of slogans and trusting completely the result.

      • Paul 10.1.2


        Throughout the first term of the fourth Labour government, the cabinet remained largely unified behind the radical financial, economic and policy reforms that were enacted In 1987 Labour won a first-past-the-post election for the last time (the mixed member proportional system was introduced in 1996). It was not until this second term, which increased Labour’s majority and was won mostly on the back of its anti-nuclear stance, that considerable divisions over economic policy began to arise within the cabinet. The Minister of Finance, Roger Douglas, was a supporter of free market theories, and sought to implement sweeping reforms (“Rogernomics”) to the economy and tax system. Others within the party, however, saw this as a betrayal of the party’s left-wing roots. The party was also criticised by the Council of Trade Unions.

        • Anne

          Throughout the first term of the fourth Labour government, the cabinet remained largely unified behind the radical financial, economic and policy reforms that were enacted In 1987.

          Well, wikipedia is completely up the poll!!

          I know for a fact… because one very senior Labour parliamentarian, plus one former very senior Labour parliamentarian, confided in me about that period. They were horrified at what was going on and so were a significant number of their caucus colleagues- and those who had immediately preceded them.

          There is enough water under the bridge to reveal what was occurring inside that Labour cabinet. As most people should know, it is correct procedure for any ministerial proposals to come before cabinet for ratification. Most governments abide by the rule, but the Douglas clan threw the rule book out the window. Most of the radical decisions were being made and implemented by a small cabal of ministers without the approval of the rest of the cabinet. Indeed, it was common for the rest of the cabinet to only hear about the proposals until after they were too far down the track to be rescinded. From all accounts there was fury but there was nothing they could do about it because:

          a) Cabinet table agendas and discussions are secret and they were unable to reveal what was going on.
          b) the Douglas clan held all the most powerful positions and thus controlled the cabinet.

          I get sick of some commenters here who pass judgement on historical political events without having any idea what really happened. It’s easy with the benefit of hindsight to understand what happened, but just try to place yourselves in the position members of that 4th government caucus faced at the time. There was a lot of bullying occurring behind the scenes and the women MPs were the most affected. It’s very hard to be able to stand up to bullies when you are in a relatively subservient position because if you do… you will be hounded out of office or (as happened in my case) lose your job/career.

          Ask Marilyn Waring. she knows all about it.

          • Colonial Viper

            Why should anyone care that some Labour MPs felt poorly about what was happening inside the Labour Government at the time?

            Did any of these MPs lose their houses or gold plated pensions due to Rogernomics? Did any of them come forward and apologise to the nation for Rogernomics after the fact?

            • Paul


            • Anne

              Oh eff off if you’re going to be like that CV. Some of us do care about historical accuracy even though you don’t.

              • Paul

                They were horrified at what was going on and so were a significant number of their caucus colleagues- and those who had immediately preceded them.

                And what did they do?

                a. Resign and run as an independent in a bye election?
                b. Act as a united group, resign and run as a group in a concerted effort to unseat the government?
                c. Work in conjunction with the unions and supporters to oust Douglas?
                d. Be horrified at what was going on.

              • weka

                oh I don’t know Anne, having watched CV go from solidly left wing and a Labour party member and voter to alt-right/pro-fascist over the last 18 months it does make sense to look at which people have the courage of their convictions and how much foresight they can be expected to have 😉

                I’m familiar with Waring’s reports of the gender issues, so what you say makes more sense if it was women MPs who were appalled (I do think it’s significant if no-one spoke out though despite the reasons you give)

                • Colonial Viper

                  and a Labour party member and voter to alt-right/pro-fascist

                  I can’t quite tell which of these name-calling labels you are trying to smear me with 😉

                  At least I am not a corporate faux green apologist 😉

                  [I saw the sequence of edits there CV. I don’t care how many 😉 you use, you don’t get to abuse authors/moderators. Take the rest of the week off – weka]

                • Paul

                  I’d say cv has given up on liberalism, not being ‘left’ wing.
                  Chris Hedges is the same.

                  • Wainwright

                    He appears to think Donald Trump is going to save the whole world. Not sure what fucked-up version of leftwing politics you think that fits.

                • Anne

                  … if it was women MPs who were appalled.

                  No, both sexes but I think the women came in for the hardest time. Not at all surprising.

              • Colonial Viper

                You can have pity on some of the individuals involved, but the organisation’s hierarchy is utterly culpable for bringing the curse of Neoliberal Rogernomics upon the nation.

                Until the organisation recognises its leading role in this political economic crime, restorative justice for the nation (and forgiveness for the organisation) will never be possible.

                That is because the necessary first step of the perpetrator taking full responsibility for what they have committed can never occur.

                • Paul

                  Until the organisation recognises its leading role in this political economic crime, restorative justice for the nation (and forgiveness for the organisation) will never be possible.


                • Paul

                  This is what the 4th Labour government unleashed.
                  Neoliberal extremists like Alan Gibbs.

                  Talking of multi-millionaires, here’s a story of New Zealand’s oligarchs from 2012.
                  Read it and weep.

                  “Gibbs is so enamoured of Austrian neoliberal economist Friedrich Hayek that he has HAYEK as his personalised number plate. “
                  Gibbs, who as chief executive of Forestry Corporation in 1986 had chainsawed staff numbers from 7070 to 2770, wanted Telecom staff cut to 6500.

                  Also mentioned …..

                  The comparisons between them and the Russian oligarchs are many.
                  Both sets are traitors to their country and its citizens: they deserve to be in prison for a long time.


            • Pat

              theres one very good reason to care…..in that if we want people of integrity and ethics to offer their services to Parliament then we should encourage those characteristics….I suspect many who enter Parliament with the honest intention of serving the public good are quickly disillusioned by the actions of the likes of inner cabinet(s) and often it is the opposite of these characters that rise to positions of power….is that what we want (or need)

              • Paul

                Careerist Labour MPs hardly encourage this.

              • weka


                I heard Marilyn Waring speak once about the struggles for women coming into parliament, including into the National party. She said that many were there for good reasons with integrity, but that inevitably there comes a time when they have to choose to compromise that or leave. She left. She cited Clark as one who stayed and compromised.

            • Tricledrown

              CV Jim Anderton

          • Paul

            Did they resign?
            Call a by-election in protest and run as an independent?

            • Anne

              No. They stayed put and didn’t run away like a coward would. They fought from within and eventually won.

              • Paul

                They fought from within and eventually won.

                Ah yes, New Zealand in 2016 shows much evidence that the Labour party abandoned neo-liberalism 25 years ago……..

                You are deluding yourself; no-one else.
                85 000 members before neo-liberalism
                8 000 now

                • Anne

                  You and your 85,000 members. What utter claptrap. I’m not sure there has ever been 85,000 members except possibly in the 1930s and 40s. You are probably counting the many thousands of workers whose unions were affiliated to the Labour Party. The vast majority were not paid up members of the L.P. and, as far as I know, have never been counted as individual members.

                  • Paul

                    My source is Chris Trotter.
                    Is he speaking claptrap?

                    The present-day party’s vigilant intolerance of socially conservative views is only possible because the ideological upheaval of Rogernomics reduced Labour’s membership from a staggering 85,000 in 1984 to around 8,500 in 2017. The militant “political correctness” of which Labour currently stands accused would have been unenforceable in its days as a mass party and remains a significant barrier to it ever becoming one again.


              • Paul

                Did Phil Goff ‘stand and fight?’

                • Anne

                  Excerpt from your link:

                  for if the affiliate trade union membership of the Labour Party is included (which currently pay fees at about ten% of the cost of ordinary membership) then in 1986, for example, the Labour Party could be said to have had about 250,000 members, whereas the party claimed only 65,000

                  Aha. 65,000 is more realistic but Edwards knows full well union members are NOT members of the Labour Party unless they choose to individually join and pay the normal annual membership fee. The 65,000 membership figure would be an exaggerated figure too. Both National and Labour used to get up to that trick (forgetting to remove members who haven’t updated their membership for years or have shuffled off this mortal coil) although it is less likely since the advent of advanced computer technology. Sooner or later they would be found out.

                • Gabby

                  He fought to the very last dollar.

          • Jenny Kirk

            + 100% Anne @

      • NewsFlash 10.1.3

        Absolutely, Unions have had their “teeth” removed by consecutive National Govts, in the nineties, they were almost banned.

    • red-blooded 10.2

      I think you’re assuming an unrealistic kind of power and level of union resources, TRM. A union that covers many workplaces knows as much about any one workplace as its members in that workplace draw to its attention. It doesn’t have the power to go in and inspect the workplace. Under the dreadful law enacted by National, the workers didn’t even have a right to an elected health and safety monitor.

      The EPMU was doing what it could on a national level to push to improve health and safety laws and protocols. Any statements made early on after the disaster are likely to have been influenced by the company spin. That doesn’t make the accident or the poor conditions and processes at Pike River the fault of the union.

      And, BTW, unions don’t “organise strikes every week”. Our current law makes it illegal to strike while a collective agreement is in place.

    • Wainwright 10.3

      Anyone who thinks workers can just up and strike any time they like clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    • Bill 10.4

      If you go to the link in the post that is the blue highlight “threatened to be sued” and scroll down that link, you’ll see that there was a walk out over safety. If you chase down interviews given by Brent Forrester, you’ll see that view being verified and you will also hear Brent Forrester say he was subsequently intimidated (all of the crew who walked out were) by management wanting to know who had called the union.

      So you ask yourself – what is the culture in a workplace when management demand to know who called the union on health and safety matters?

      From the link

      The union representing mine workers, Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), could have brought the mine to a halt, at least temporarily, by encouraging strikes, pickets or bans over safety. But it caused no disruption to Pike’s path to calamity. It had a limp presence at the mine, in part because it wasn’t welcome.

      There was only ever one walk-out over safety, when mine deputy Dan Herk threw down the gauntlet about the lack of mine vehicles available to quickly evacuate workers in the event of an emergency. Herk called the local EPMU representative, Matt Winter, and said he was concerned for the men’s safety; Winter advised he should, therefore, walk out.

      The only bit I’m unclear on is whether it was Herk or Forrester who belled the union (been reading too many links). But in a site with 50% coverage and given the crap employment legislation in NZ plus a pile of contractors who don’t get paid if production stops…

    • Tricledrown 10.5

      Because Union participation at Pike River was to low.
      And high paid jobs were on the line for anyone joining the Union.

  11. joe90 11

    Unions organise strikes every second week in this country over pay, conditions, health & safety etc.

    Other than the current salaried doctors, which unions organise strikes every second week in this country over pay, conditions, health & safety etc?.

  12. weka 12


    “One thing I am never going to be challenged by Winston on is my commitment to Pike River. And the difference between me and Winston Peters is I wasn’t sitting in a Cabinet in the 1990s that undermined our health and safety regulations in mine regulations, specifically,” Little told the Herald.


    For those that think Peters is the hero here.

    • NewsFlash 12.1


    • The Chairman 12.2

      That was an interesting outburst from Little.

      Was Little’s outburst strategically wise?

      How will Labour entering into a spat with NZF look to voters?

      Why was Little not more supportive of Peters current effort?

      It seems Little’s commitment to Pike River is being challenged.

      While Peters was sitting in Cabinet in the 1990s, did he actually support the undermining of our health and safety regulations?

      Does Little hold the same disdain for the following Labour Party for not making improvements to our health and safety regulations?

      • Leftie 12.2.1

        What disdain? What makes you think the previous Labour government, (I presume that’s what you meant by “Labour party”), didn’t improve health and Safety? Why would Little support what he thought was a cheap shot by Peters?

        • The Chairman

          “Why would Little support what he thought was a cheap shot by Peters?”

          To display, thus help build a public perception of unity within the opposition.

          Moreover, to help further his commitment to the Pike River families.

          Little should have said while he would prefer to have a third report done, he was prepared to make legislative change to re-enter if required.

          Then instead of taking a swipe at Peters (a potential coalition partner) Little should have highlighted the two conflicting reports and put the acid on National to have a third report done. Furthering his commitment.

          “What disdain? “

          The disdain Littler directed at Peters.

          Little implied Peters and the Cabinet he was apart of back in the 1990s undermined our health and safety regulations in mine regulations, in essence, insinuating blame. Therefore, if the following Labour Government overturned those changes, thus made improvements, how can one imply blame to a Cabinet of the 90s?

  13. Rosemary McDonald 13

    Excuse me.

    Mr. Bradbury uses the term “Identitarian hyper-Activists”.

    Being old and largely uneducated I have no idea what he means by this term.


    Please. 🙂

  14. Penny Bright 14

    I found this helpful :


    “…..The union representing mine workers, Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), could have brought the mine to a halt, at least temporarily, by encouraging strikes, pickets or bans over safety.

    But it caused no disruption to Pike’s path to calamity.

    It had a limp presence at the mine, in part because it wasn’t welcome.

    There was only ever one walk-out over safety, when mine deputy Dan Herk threw down the gauntlet about the lack of mine vehicles available to quickly evacuate workers in the event of an emergency.

    Herk called the local EPMU representative, Matt Winter, and said he was concerned for the men’s safety; Winter advised he should, therefore, walk out.

    Herk led the men out of the mine.

    Shortly afterwards Winter received an angry call from Pike’s human resources manager, Dick Knapp, advising him to tell the men to go back to work.

    When Winter refused, Knapp threatened to sue the union.

    The issue the men were protesting about was attended to within a matter of hours, with the prompt repair of a broken-down vehicle that had been out of action for three weeks.

    Winter was aware of workers’ concerns about the lack of a proper emergency exit, and he had heard about the series of methane ignitions in late 2008.

    He was also worried about the high number of cleanskins – workers new to mining – at Pike.

    He understood that it was desirable in underground coal mining to have a ratio of experienced to inexperienced workers of about four to one.

    Pike had a much larger proportion of inexperienced men than other sites he looked after.

    It wasn’t easy to enlist Pike workers into the union.

    Some told Winter they didn’t want to upset management by signing up.

    And he got the impression Pike management wasn’t interested in forming any sort of relationship with EPMU.

    Pike had an internal health and safety committee but the union had no representation on it.

    Winter found Pike management “arrogant and unwilling to listen.

    They were prepared to tolerate the presence of the union in line with their legislative obligations, but they were not at all interested in developing a good relationship.”

    He left his job in early 2010 and handed over to a new man, Garth Elliot.

    Others at the site also had the impression that the company preferred not to have a strong union presence.

    In 2009, when health and safety manager Neville Rockhouse sought to have the union involved in a training exercise, Peter Whittall told him in an email: “Please do not use the union in the same sentence as anything at Pike.

    Our relationship and the way we communicate is between us and our employees.”

    And so men like Willie Joynson, who went underground every day to earn a living, and who were entitled to the protection of robust safety systems and equipment that left a fat margin for error, were working on the edge.

    Pike River mine, which needed to have the best of everything to succeed in its tough environment – the best geological knowledge, the best equipment, the most rigorous safety regime – had the worst of everything.

    Joynson and his workmates were exposed on all sides by those whose job it was to protect them: a regulator that was submissive and unwilling to use the powers at its disposal; a board that was incurious, bereft of knowledge and experience of underground coal mining, and unable to see the symptoms of failure; management that was unstable, ill-equipped for the environment and incapable of pulling together all the pieces of its own frightening picture; and a union that was marginalised and irrelevant.


    How many workers at Pike River Mine were actually EPMU members?

    Penny Bright

    • …The union representing mine workers, Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), could have brought the mine to a halt, at least temporarily, by encouraging strikes, pickets or bans over safety.

      By encouraging strikes, pickets or bans by workers who were mostly not members of the union? Maybe the Herald could tell us how that’s supposed to work. There’s a big problem in the reporting of workplace issues in that few journalists have been union members themselves and generally have no fucking idea.

      • mickysavage 14.1.1


        • Jenny Kirk

          + 2.

          and for Penny’s info, 70 of the workers were EPMU members and none of them were on the health & safety committee. Union members were not welcome obviously.

          • weka

            70 out of how many?

            • Jenny Kirk

              about 150 Weka. And when there was a previous walkout by some of the miners, the management threatened to sue the EPMU. Sounds like a lot of intimidation went on to stop miners joining the union.

              • weka

                Thanks for that background Jenny.

              • Carolyn_nth

                Also, Pike River Mine employed a large number of contract workers, enabling them to get around health and safety for them, and, I think limiting their rights/ability to join a union.

                Case study on the use of contract workers at Pike River: “Independent, dependent, and employee: Contractors and New Zealand’s Pike River Coal Mine disaster”

                …killed 29 workers. Thirteen of the dead were contracted workers.1 At the time of the PRCM explosion, out of a workforce of 200, there were over 80 contractors who worked at the mine. Most of the contractors were either sole traders or operated local, small businesses, employing on average <10 people. The local businesses were dependent on PRCM to a lesser or greater degree and provided both skilled and unskilled labour. In addition to subcontracted labour, PCRM also outsourced aspects of the mine design, financial and environmental risk assessments, and a great deal of the management of occupational health and safety (OHS), such as mine ventilation. In sum, PRCM relied on contract labour, both downstream and upstream, for its development and operations (see Bluff et al., 2012; James et al., 2007; Johnstone et al., 2000; Quinlan et al., 2001).

      • Robertina 14.1.2

        Well that’s wrong. Journalism has a strong history of unionism and membership remains at high levels, especially by today’s standards.
        Where do you get the claim from that few journalists have been union members? Of course there is a dearth of industrial affairs reporters. And being a union member does not qualify you for that role.
        The union is E Tu (in case you don’t know, the EPMU no longer exists), which was very active in the recent consultation over the proposed print media merger.
        Also, and crucially, the item Penny Bright posted is an extract from Rebecca MacFie’s respected and well-researched book on the matter. It’s not just some news story.

        • Psycho Milt

          Crucially? Rebecca Macfie’s a journalist and the piece was published in the Herald – seems reasonable to consider it journalism.

          You have me bang to rights for circular argument, though – I was assuming few journalists are union members because their reporting of union-related issues is so bad, while claiming that their reporting is so bad because few of them are union members. Logic fail.

          • Robertina

            That’s one very weird argument you’ve got there. Yes, I do consider her work journalism, but that’s not a pejorative term for me.
            The Herald running an extract of her work does not discredit or devalue it.

            • Psycho Milt

              I’m not sure what you consider my argument to be if you think those claims are part of it. For the record, journalism’s not a pejorative term for me either, and no, the Herald publishing something doesn’t discredit or devalue it. The particular sentence I quoted, however, does demonstrate a lack of understanding of unions and how they work – hence the comment.

              • Robertina

                How they need to work is members grasping that they are ”the union”; the union is not their organiser or a Wellington official.

  15. Rae 15

    You may want to consider that the word “union” would be as dirty a one as “DoC” to the miners of Pike River. Any union activity would had to have been extremely clandestine.

  16. For the record the Meat Workers Union does not fund the Daily Blog or contribute in any financial way. When it was originally set up, years ago, some unions, including the MWU did make a contribution. To continue to display the MWU logo is highly misleading and implies support that isn’t there. Particularly when he attacks other unions.

    • weka 16.1

      it would be interesting then to know which of the other Cornerstone Supporters are still or no longer contributing,


    • Rosemary McDonald 16.2

      “Particularly when he attacks other unions.”

      Hmmm…Bearing in mind his nickname is “Bomber” and he does tend to be a tad OTT…he does have a point about some unions and their failure to be pro active on behalf of their members.

      Not so much now, but definitely in the past…and Little’s wishy washy ‘no safety concerns that we heard about’ is a case in point. The spontaneous walkout prior to the tragedy was a complaint, and that should have been known to Little before he got in front of a microphone after the explosion. I guess he wasn’t living in the glass house then.

      And then there’s the PSA.

      Those members of the PSA working at WINZ….implementing the ‘kick them when they’re down’ policies this Government is committed to. The policies that have put families into homelessness and sent the mentally fragile over the edge to suicide or murder?

      These workers must have known that these policies are draconian and inhumane….and did any of them approach their union and get support to organise a delegation to government to inform their paymasters that ordering staff to treat fellow human beings in such a callous manner was not in their employment contracts?

      Because that’s what I would do if told by my boss to treat people like that.

      And I suspect Bomber would do too.

      PSA members need to take a long hard look at how they have enabled this, and the previous Labour Government, to grind the most vulnerable into the dirt.

      • weka 16.2.1

        I think your analysis of the WINZ situation is well worth considering (and would love to hear from other union people about what the unions roles are in that kind of situation).

        (As an aside, I think you are too kind about Bradbury, who while he does have some decent left wing politics also appears to be far more self serving than you give him credit for 😉 )

  17. The Chairman 17

    So instead of backing a potential coalition partner supporting the Pike River family members, Little decided to take a swipe at Winston while highlighting his own commitment.

    However, it turns out Little’s commitment has come into question with past reports showing him defending the company and it’s safety record.

    Bomber questions the wisdom of Labour entering into a spat with NZF and how it will look to voters while highlighting doubts raised in regards to Little’s commitment. And it’s he that is jumped upon?

    Sorry, but either a big mistake has been made or this is another example of a lowering of the bar, excuses being made and a case of shooting the messenger.

    • Wainwright 17.2

      He’s being jumped on because he didn’t provide any evidence, just repeated a Whaleoil smear about the EPMU. He hates the EPMU, the PSA, any union which hasn’t given him cash. Look at him personally targeting J Williams because she dared tweet about his long history of bashing union members. Tosser.

      • In Vino 17.2.1

        Ignorant boy – It has been already pointed out even on this thread that he did not repeat Whale Oil: he cited the Marxist/Socialist ‘Against the Current’ website.

        Going through all this, I tend to now agree more with Bomber than most of the ranters here. Some of you are reprehensibly careless in piling on the venom. Go read Bomber’s latest riposte on the Daily Blog. Some of you should squirm uncomfortably.

      • The Chairman 17.2.2

        As Vino pointed out, he didn’t repeat a Whaleoil smear.

        He was questioning Little’s wisdom and highlighted there were questions about the role of the EPMU, thus Little’s commitment.

        And, evidently, there are.

        Apparently Jessica Williams targeted Bomber and her outburst was clearly out of line. The blog had nothing to do with Union hating, it was to do with questioning Little’s wisdom.

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